As you head into fall — and with back-to-school excitement all but gone — it can be tough to find the motivation to prepare innovative meals for lunch. You pack your kids’ lunch, you pack your own, it can become a boring ordeal. However, the next time you feel lunchbox letdown, turn to this list of fun and healthy meal-preparation tricks and you’ll learn to love lunch again.
While it’s important to pack a nutritious meal to keep you going throughout the day, it’s also a good idea to treat yourself to something sweet. Chocolate is a good option. The antioxidants can help stave off free radical damage to your body’s cells, and chocolate is loaded with fiber so you’ll feel fuller longer. (Midday cravings will also be less likely to creep up on you.) Fun kid-like options are available from Kinder Chocolate (which now offers a peanut-free chocolate bar).
Never skip a meal
If you’re always on the go, sitting down to a nutritious meal may not always be possible. So keep healthy meal replacement bars on hand. Great options are now available from Atkins; the bars balance flavor with nutrients (rich in fiber and healthy fats) and Atkins also offers tasty shakes to sip on.
One of the best ways to stave off cravings is to keep hydrated. And while fresh fruit juices can offer nutrients like vitamin C and A, they can also be loaded with calories and sugar. So stick with water that has just a hint of natural flavor. Hint Water is a great choice — it contains no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
Buy healthy pre-packaged meals
It used to be the only lunch items in the frozen food aisle were fatty dishes like fettuccine alfredo or lasagna. Not anymore. New options like Healthy Choice Gourmet Steamers are taking over the marketplace. And according to registered dietitians like Sue Mah, they’re a convenient way to give you fuel and energy throughout the day. Their new line contains dishes like Lemon Garlic Chicken and Shrimp (on whole-grain pasta) and General Tao’s Spicy Chicken with Rice and Vegetables.
Visit www.facebook.com/HealthyChoiceCanada, which is chock-full of healthy tips from three top living experts and more info on eating healthy at lunch.
Go for variety
Many of us stop bringing lunch to work because we get stuck in a rut, which is why it’s important to keep things lively. That’s especially true of sandwiches. According to celebrity chef and Hellmann’s spokesperson Chuck Hughes, there are all sorts of things you can do to add some personality to every sandwich. All you have to do is put a spin on old favorites. Try packing a deconstructed lunch, so you can build your sandwich at work (or your kids can do it at school). And always choose fresh ingredients over bagged ones (you can even toast bread if there’s a toaster in your building). Here’s one of Hughes’ go-to lunch recipes.
Spicy Chipotle Haddock
Makes four portions
- 4 6-oz. haddock filets, baked
- 4 whole wheat buns
- 4 large leaves romaine lettuce
- 4 1-oz. slices of low-fat cheddar cheese
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1/4 cup Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise-type dressing
- Slice buns in half.
- Mix the Hellmann’s mixture with the chipotle/adobo sauce and spread 1 Tbsp. on bottom half of each bun.
- Place cheese slices, lettuce and haddock on the bun and top off with the other half of the buns.